smoky cannellini beans & red kale soup

makes 8 servings

If you can’t find red kale, the curly green variety will work fine. Feel free to skip the pancetta all-together for a vegetarian version of this soup, and just swap in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in place of the pan drippings to saute the onions and boullion.

4 ounces 1/4-inch thick sliced pancetta, diced

1 medium onion, diced

4 teaspoons vegetable boullion

2 cups, tightly packed sliced red kale, ribs removed

6 cups boiling water, plus more as needed

One 1-inch by 1/2-inch Parmesan cheese rind

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (white kidney beans)

Eight 1-inch thick slices of stale country bread or baguette

Heat a stock pot over medium flame. Add pancetta and saute until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

Add the onion to the pancetta grease (that’s what is folks, no nice way to say it), and saute over medium heat until golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bouillon and saute until fragrant. Stir in the kale, and saute until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes (you should have enough pancetta fat still, but if not, add a teaspoon of olive oil to the pot).

Slowly pour in the boiling water, stirring to mix all the ingredients very well. Add the Parmesan rind, season with pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the kale is very tender, about 20 minutes, adding more water as needed to thin out the soup. Add beans and cook until they are heated through, about 2 more minutes.

To serve, place one slice of stale country bread into center of a deep bowl. Ladle soup over bread and serve immediately. May be refrigerated for up to 3 days.